Middle East

Iran and Egypt to resume flights

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Egypt and Iran have agreed to resume direct flights between their capitals for the first time in three decades.

Following talks in Egypt, officials said 28 weekly flights would resume between Cairo and Tehran, but did not specify when they would begin.

Ties broke down in 1980 in the wake of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and Egypt's recognition of Israel.

Ties remain strained, but Iranian media said the move could be a prelude to the resumption of formal ties.

The agreement was signed by Egyptian and Iranian civil aviation authorities, but as yet, no explanation has been given of what led to their deal.

Rami Lakah, who runs privately owned company Egyptian Mission, said that the contract with Iranian counterpart, Kish Air, was for eight years.

Tensions between Egypt and Iran rose in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution - when Egypt gave asylum to the deposed Shah of Iran. Iran also opposed Egypt's recognition of Israel.

For the past three decades, the two regional powers - one predominantly Shia Muslim and the other mainly Sunni - have competed for influence in the Middle East and maintained only interest sections, rather than embassies, in each other's capitals, the BBC's Yolande Knell reports from Cairo.

While there have been few recent signs of improving relations, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency has suggested the visit of an Iranian delegation to discuss air travel and tourism - could be the prelude to the resumption of diplomatic ties.

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